Founder and executive director of NLUR, Pastor Max Rodas, said the event is intentionally casual and marks the end of summer and brings together an eclectic group of people who help the organization accomplish its mission in many different ways.
Rodas said the funds raised at the event will benefit NLUR and all of its programs which include: Proyecto Luz, HIV/AIDS outreach program, Latino Fatherhood Outreach Services, Adelante Youth Program, and Community Engagement.
The Fatherhood program is a recent addition that provides skill-building groups for any Latino father. “Nationally, 44 percent of Latino families do not have a father figure,” said Rodas—the figures are even gloomier in the African-American community, edging at 67 percent.
Proyecto Luz was started in 1999 to provide HIV patients testing, prevention, supportive services, and spiritual counseling, in a safe, compassionate environment. Dr. A. Marc Harrison, Chief Medical Operations Officer for the Cleveland Clinic, said he was compelled to get involved with NLUR because of the passion and commitments Rodas exuded for the mission. He reminded guests to remember the reason they had gathered that evening and bid generously to support NLUR.
Dr. Harrison relayed his first encounter with an HIV patient during his first year of medical residency—a young Caucasian, Mormon girl, battling the disease with her mother, with little support from family. “Their support came from the gay community but it wasn’t contextually correct,” he said.
For Angela Green, Branch Manager at Dollar Bank, supporting the Center began as a personal mission to improve the lives within a community she was a part of. She got involved five years ago and remembers the first fiesta, where she helped prepare the food with friends.
When she joined Dollar Bank, she encouraged its Hispanic Division to invest in NLUR. The corporation provides financial counseling workshops that teach children and adults to manage money, be aware of credit fraud, and manage budgets. “There are so many programs that need volunteers, there is a need, and Dollar Bank is happy to help,” she said.
Special guests, Sister Alicia Alvarado, Ruby L. Terry, and Sharlene Chesnes Ramos were recognized for their contributions to the organization.